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Author Topic: The WS6 & WS7 option (Facts, Opinion, & Myth)  (Read 236 times)

via3d

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The WS6 & WS7 option (Facts, Opinion, & Myth)
« on: June 23, 2020, 01:21:57 PM »
you be the judge:  Fact, Myth, Opinion

Even though WS6 tends to be an sought after feature in T/A's, don't forget about the WS7.

WS7 is seldom mentioned for Trans Ams. I believe there are misconceptions too.
   
A year ago I did a lot of research learning about options and codes. I was perplexed as I had a lot of factory suspension upgrades on my car. My '79 TA is all stock original (family car found in a barn, literally for real LOL). I also discovered my build sheet.

In a nutshell, the assertion I often read is "a WS7 is the same as a WS6 without the rear disc brakes" OR " it is a WS6 without the rear brakes because Pontiac ran out of the read disc brakes"  And I have even read WS7 is not a real option... LOL, I say "B.S."  It is as real as it can be sitting in my driveway. 
I even read an article from a magazine that states it like this... that a WS7, because of disc brake shortages was a:  WS6 fitted with rear drum brakes. 

--->>> To the contrary, it should be noted like this:  For 1979: "The WS7 is the Special Handling Package"  and "The WS6 includes the special handling package and power brakes" 

The rear disc brakes were in short supply I commonly read, with assertions this is why they have a WS7. I do not believe this is the specific reason why there was a "WS7" for 1979. I listed a myriad of facts and reasons at the end of this write up but first the following options duplicate kinda tells enough.

Anyways here goes Firebird fans, duplicate of options listing I found for 1979:

WS7  Special Handling Package
Available Formula & Trans Am only.  N/A T/W L78, Y84 or Y89
Consists of:
Wheels, Cast ALum. - Special 8 inch Rim (argent or Gold)
Tires, 225/70R15 W/L  Steel Belted Radial
Special Handling Suspension
Formula & Transam .................  $284.00

WS6 Special Performance Package
Available Formula Trans Am only.  T/W L37, L78, L80 V-8 engines only)
Consists of:
Wheels, Cast ALum. - Special 8 inch Rim (argent or Gold)
Tires, 225/70R15 W/L  Steel Belted Radial
Special Handling Package
Power Brakes, Front & Rear Disc
Formula ..............................................................  $434.00
Trans Am
w/o Y84 'Special Edition' Appearance package ........... 434.00
t/w Y84 'Special Edition' Appearance package ........... 250.00

 

My car is a WS4 (Trans Am), L80 (.403cu) with the WS7 option. I have many of the other interior and trim upgrades.

---------------------
Notes:
A. Rear disc brakes in '79 could be ordered on their own without the WS6 package.
B. WS7 existed from 1976 to 1985.  WS6 existed until 1988
     I located & have a 'GM Production Code' copy print, circa 1987,  that lists GM codes for the 70's up to the 1987 copy print.  WS7 was a code listed by GM in use in GM car lines First year 76 Last year 85..
C. WS7 means "special handling package"  while WS6 meant "special performance package"
D. I am convinced the original owner of my car bought the option WS7 specifically as the car was spec'd by the buyer, not the dealer. And the buyer purchased a whole lot of upgrades. I will be purchasing the sales sheet from PHS to further back my claim.
E. Keep in mind 4 wheel disc brakes were still new technology then, not everyone was rushing to buy and have them. Thus, I would think most lead foot enthusiasts in 1979 would want the special handling package, yet some would not option for the 4 wheel disc brakes.
E2. Let me ask this a different way. In the 70's and again now, what is more important to you: A. an upgraded suspension for a better handling car or B. rear disc brakes for better braking distance (of ONE YARD difference in stopping from 60mph)  ?    LOL thats right ONE YARD....   
 E3. Let me ask it yet again:  Would you want to buy a T/A with A. special handling package  or B. buy a T/A with better braking (and it may be on backorder)   LOL   
F. Did other GM car lines have & automatically include the 4 wheel disc brakes?  'GM' was in short supply of rear disc brakes availability, not directly in association with Friebirds and WS6 option. 
G. No one in that time, knew the sales were going to sky rocket for T/A's  let alone special order editions. Thus the reason rear disc brakes were not always readily available. Our T/A's were one of the highest mass produced cars of the year and were in demand like never seen before.
H. I highlighted above, as listed, A WS6 included the "special handling package". 
I . My Norwood plant build sheet =
WS4 trans-Am opti
WS7 spec handling .....   A WS6 car will list the WS4 and WS6 
J. I would like to discover if there are differences on build sheet listing: plant to plant and year to year.
K. As per note B. - I do not know what specific car lines had WS7 nor what associated years. I will look for these some time soon.
L. I read on a site that:   GM created a new RPO WS7 which was essentially the WS6 package without the 4-wheel disc brakes" YET I have a copy print circa 1987 that states WS7 was a designator from 76-85 that could be used. 
M.  I found the same reasons were used in 1982 for Firebirds on wiki, that a WS7 was because of a shortage of rear disc brakes. LOL....   so you mean to tell me, GM would not capitalize from 1979 to 1982 on rear disc brake demands and thus why we have a WS7 option... hardly believable GM did not want to make money and solve the worldwide shortage of rear disc brakes for 4 years. 
N. Is this a 'classic' case (pun intended) of where one journalist person wrote something, assumed something, was misinformed of something and  it gets repeated over and over.. then because another person reads it somewhere it must be true.   
 
« Last Edit: June 23, 2020, 02:21:33 PM by via3d »
~ J

firebirdparts

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Re: The WS6 & WS7 option (Facts, Opinion, & Myth)
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2020, 02:26:58 PM »
I can answer your question "F".  The answer is no.

GM had already seen that they were going to need to offer rear disc on Cadillacs and the corvette.  As they infected Cadillac, they became very common on the Toronado and Riv, but it didn't immediately spread beyond that, and remarkably, Camaros didn't use them.  The front wheel drive cars didn't use any of the same parts, but the basic geometry of the brakes on all these cars were the same.  Maybe not the Corvette.  I never had one.
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Bandit1

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Re: The WS6 & WS7 option (Facts, Opinion, & Myth)
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2020, 01:42:26 PM »
Very interesting read! I had heard of the supposed shortage, but what you're saying about "handling package" vs "performance package" makes a lot of sense.

Maxthe222

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Re: The WS6 & WS7 option (Facts, Opinion, & Myth)
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2020, 02:51:42 PM »
I think they really just ran out of disc brakes. Like with everything the Firebirds did, orders exceeded what GM expected. Think back to the eagle on the hood. Apparently a silly idea they didn't think people would want it. Couldn't keep sell cars without it. They probably did not expect people to order that many Firebirds in 1979, let alone this new option of disc brakes which may have seemed trivial to the executives. Or it could be similar to a Can Am situation, the moulding that made the rear spoiler broke, and the factory producing the brakes had issues manufacturing a brand new part and could not keep up with demmand. It was a new part specifically for the firebird at the time, and they likely had teething issues with production. Larger than expected volume of car orders + new part with new system + everyone drunk on the assembly lines in the '70's = can't keep up with production.

As for would I have waited in 1979 for that braking option? Absolutely. Not even from a performance standpoint, everyone else is getting 'em and I'm not? Bah! Can't let my friends have stuff I don't! I would have called the dealer at 1AM in the morning standing outside his window asking where my 4-speed W72 order was with everything (and I mean everything) on the buildsheet. One item missing off the buildsheet? No factory Tungsten Headlamps? Ok take the car back I don't want it order me another one
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1971 Formula 400 4-Speed

scarebird

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Re: The WS6 & WS7 option (Facts, Opinion, & Myth)
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2020, 02:58:27 PM »
I can answer your question "F".  The answer is no.

GM had already seen that they were going to need to offer rear disc on Cadillacs and the corvette.  As they infected Cadillac, they became very common on the Toronado and Riv, but it didn't immediately spread beyond that, and remarkably, Camaros didn't use them...

Not quite - 1969 Camaros had the JL8 option, essentially the Corvette rear disc assembly adapted to a solid axle.  Corvettes had rear disc from 1965.  Cadillacs started in the mid 70's with rear, as did some full size Buicks (rare). 

Re: The WS6 & WS7 option (Facts, Opinion, & Myth)
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2020, 02:58:27 PM »
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